ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — CC Sabathia got his 246th win and moved the New York Yankees closer to hosting next week’s AL wild-card game but may have cost himself a $500,000 bonus.
Sabathia was ejected from Thursday’s 12-1 win over the Rays in the sixth inning for hitting Jesus Sucre on a leg in retaliation for Tampa Bay reliever Andrew Kittredge throwing an inside pitch at Austin Romine. Making his final regular-season start, Sabathia had thrown 55 pitches and the five innings raised his season total to 153 innings — two shy of a $500,000 performance bonus in his contract for reaching 155 innings.
New York (98-61) ensured its best season since going 103-59 en route to the 2009 World Series title and moved two games ahead of Oakland (96-63) for hosting the Oct. 3 wild-card game. The Yankees hold the tiebreaker, which means more Yankees win or Athletics loss ensures the game would be in the Bronx.
The wild-card winner advances to a Division Series against AL East champion Boston.
Giancarlo Stanton homered twice, raising his total to 37, and Miguel Andujar and Luke Voit also went deep for the Yankees. New York’s 260 homers tied the 2005 Texas Rangers for the second-most in major league history, four behind the 1997 Seattle Mariners.
With New York ahead 7-0, Sabathia hit Jake Bauers around a hand with two outs in the fifth.
Kittredge threw his initial pitch in the sixth near Romine’s head, and plate umpire Vic Carapazza issued a warning to both benches. In the Yankees dugout, an angry Sabathia had to be intercepted by Boone.
New York opened an 11-0 lead and Sabathia hit Sucre the lower left leg on his first pitch in the bottom half, causing Carpazza to eject the pitcher and Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Sabathia stared and gestured toward the Tampa Bay side of the field while walking to the Yankees dugout on the third-base side after being tossed. Relievers in both bullpens stood up but the other players remained in the dugouts.
The 38-year-old left-hander, likely the Yankees’ fourth starter during the postseason, allowed one hit and lowered his ERA to 3.65. He has a $10 million base salary in his one-year contract.
Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga completed a two-hitter, giving New York its third straight series win. Cessa gave up C.J Cron’s homer in the seventh.
Andujar hit a three-run homer during a four-run first off Jaime Schultz (2-2), raising the impressive rookie’s RBI total to 90 this season.
New York’s four-run sixth included back-to-back solo homers by Voit and Stanton, who had his 32nd multi-homer game.
Yankees CF Aaron Hicks (left hamstring) should start Friday night and SS Didi Gregorius (right wrist) also could also return during the final regular-season series. Both ran the bases and took batting practice, while Gregorius took grounders. “Looking good for both of them,” Boone said. … Neil Walker started at third base, one day after getting hit by a pitch on the left shin.
LHP J.A. Happ is scheduled to start Friday night at Boston, which lines him up to pitch against Oakland on regular rest. RHP Luis Severino starts Sunday, which lines him up for a Division Series opener at Fenway Park on Oct. 5. RHP Rick Porcello (17-7) starts Friday for the Red Sox.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)